Motivation for Discipline – Proverbs 13:24

Spoiled Children Are Like Spoiled Food – They Leave A Bad Taste In Your Mouth

Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Worldly Wisdom

Everyone seems to have a word of wisdom.  Time-honored advice that has worked for them, and others who passed it on to them.  Wisdom is the practical application of knowledge for the betterment of mankind.  And the world, the flesh, and the devil seem to constantly pour out their versions of wisdom.

With children, wisdom from the world and the devil appears to be hands-off parenting.  “Be their friend; give their opinions, no matter how bizarre, the same weight as your own, and let them guide the way; after all, they are the future!”

The world does so at their own peril.  For children learn by observing and doing what pleases them.  The implied morality that human beings supposedly have – that we are inherently good – is believed and embraced.  And any correction to the natural learning cycle of children is no longer the imparting of wisdom, but rather considered an impediment and abuse.  After all, should not the child be able to decide for itself how it should think, act, and respond to the world?

Learning Love

The first fallacy of hands-off child-raising is that children, by their very “innocent nature”, implicitly know love and how to love.  But observe any child left to his/her own devices, and watch just how manipulative, conniving, scheming, self-centered, self-absorbed the child will become.  Rather than Timmy on the classic “Lassie” TV show, the child instead begins to resemble Damian in “The Omen“.

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Children need training.  They need to both be trained through instruction and correction, as well as having a solid example of behavior in the form of character that is congruent with what is being said.  Children are natural hypocrisy detectors.  Their “radar” is tuned to check what they hear against what they observe.

Love does not come naturally.  It makes no sense to love anyone else if there is no direct benefit to yourself.  Self-preservation and self-fulfillment are the goals of the untrained, undisciplined mind.  Even in adulthood, the world behaves in the same way:

  • Get as much of the pie as you can, because no one will help you out
  • Be concerned with yourself first and everyone else later (if it is convenient for you and your plans)
  • The strong should rule over the weak

Godly love does none of these things.  Godly (agape) love is

  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Does not envy
  • Does not boast
  • Is not proud
  • Is not rude
  • Does not insist on its own way
  • Does not rejoice at wrongdoing
  • Rejoices with the Truth
  • Bears all things
  • Believes all things
  • Hopes all things
  • Endures all things
  • Doesn’t fail

Children, left to their own devices, will not embrace this type of character.  They must be taught character.  The first part of learning is accepting the correct role of authority in one’s life

Accepting Authority

Correction helps us to accept the rightful authority over our lives.

An old friend of mine had a nephew whose father was wild.  In a stunning, emotional scene where the child’s mother was allowing the father to see his son one last time (she had won full parental responsibility and the court ruled that the father would no longer have any rights [or financial obligations] towards the child), the father’s parting words to his son were astounding.  He basically said, “Son, you don’t have to listen to anyone, not even me.  Be your own man.”  His parting words were calculated to do the maximum damage that he could so that the child’s mother would have the most difficult time raising him up.

Years later, the uncle of that child and two of his friends took this child on their annual pilgrimage to a famous amusement park.  There were three sets of hawk-eyes trained on that young man, now just a little before the teenage span of his life.  Rather than hold the young man’s hand (and embarrass him in front of strangers), these three men kept a watchful eye on the young man.  The child, who had never had the opportunity to visit this amusement park, was in wonder at all of the sights before him.  The three men watching him were diligent in keeping their eyes on this child.

About three hours into the first day of this weekend-long trip, some sound caught the attention of all three men.  They looked away for a mere second or two.  But that was all that was needed.  The child, who was watching the men carefully, realizing his opportunity to be free from the control and authority of these men, bolted into the thick crowds.  Almost an hour later, the young man was found, greatly enjoying the freedom from oversight by those who had been placed in authority over him, unaware of the dangers that his “dash to freedom” placed him in.  Because this young man had the tendency to bolt like this, corrective action needed to be taken.  In this case, the weekend-long trip was cut short, as the risk was just too great.

When we refuse to accept the rightful authority of the ones who have been placed in charge over us (not only men, but also God), we set ourselves up for the opportunity to be placed in a situation where the outcome is less than desirable.  And like the young man’s story above, not every “dash to freedom” results in dire consequences.  But we fail to recognize the danger that we are in, because we are unable to see every aspect of life as it unfolds around us.

Readying for Responsibility

Correction readies us for greater responsibility.  As we accept correction of those who are in lawful authority over us, we begin to be prepared for greater responsibility.  Just as you wouldn’t give the keys of the $500K Ferrari to the 14-year-old wild-child, neither will God give us responsibility when we are not ready.

When God calls us, He then equips us.  But this is after careful preparation:

  • Joseph was prepared as a slave for more than a decade before God called him to save the entire world from famine
  • Moses was prepared for forty years as shepherd before God called him to shepherd his people into the promised land
  • The twelve disciples of Christ were prepared for three years (including Paul, who had his own three-year preparation with Christ in the desert before being released) by Jesus Christ Himself.

We need to be open to correction in order to grow and be prepared for greater responsibility.

Careful Correction

The manner of correction is just as important as its intensity and timing.  The strong-willed child will defiantly say, “I would rather DIE than have to submit to you!”  And the child is truly fully prepared to make good on that statement (it is NOT an idle threat).  What to do?  How do you prepare a child such as this so that they will be ready to be released from your care and supervision and then solely under the supervision of Almighty God?

God Himself will provide the manner, attitude, words, and consequences for training such a child if we allow Him to and invite Him to do so.  Some children appear completely compliant.  Those are the dangerous ones.  They seem OK, but what is really going on inside?  Are they compliant to get their way, or are they compliant because they desire to accept the authority over them?

God sees our hearts as they truly are.  And He is more than capable of applying the “rod of correction” to each of us in such a way that we will not soon forget it.  What works for you wouldn’t necessarily have any impact on me.  And what works on me might just irritate and turn you away from God rather than have the desired effect.

In any case, correction is necessary, for if we are permitted to continue on in our ways, we will surely pass the point where our consciences are seared, and we won’t even realize the deep depths of darkness that our lives slip quietly into until the terrible moment when circumstances reveal the true depravity of our souls.

Properly Prepared

God is the one who knows best how to guide, correct, and instruct each and every one of us at any age or stage in our lives.  We need to go before Him to receive instruction and correction.   The hyper-grace community of believers may be just as surprised as the legalists when they go before Almighty God saying, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?”  And our Lord Jesus Christ will reply, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”

God disciplines us as His childrenAnyone who is not disciplined by God is NOT one of His.  Surely, if God disciplines us, should we not then discipline our children as well?  And what then shall we say of our motivation behind discipline?  Is it truly “child abuse”, as culture tell us, or is it loving care as we use it as a preparatory method for bringing about the fruit of righteousness?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I accept discipline properly?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, may Your holy name be praised.  Thank You for disciplining me so that I would not bring dishonor to Your name.  Thank You for showing me, through Your discipline, that I am one of Yours.  Thank You for the opportunity to grow in truth and righteousness.  Thank You for the opportunity to bear fruit in accordance with righteousness rather than selfishness.  Thank You, Father, for Your many lessons, painful as they are.  And I pray, Lord God Almighty, that should I be in the position of administering these lessons to others in a parental, governmental, judicial, and/or business environment, that You would guide me as to the best way to do so.  Help me to adhere to Your word, and to reject culture where culture conflicts with the truth.  Give me courage, resources, and assistance where necessary to defend Your tried and true methods against the rebellion of society towards You.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

God Reveals Himself – Psalm 18:25-27

God Reveals Himself Experientially

25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
26 to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
27 You save the humble
but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

Opportune Observation

Everywhere in the Bible, we see God revealing Himself.  He does so through His word.  He reveals His amazing character through His interaction with His creation. We have the wonderful opportunity to observe through reading God’s word exactly how He interacts with us in the universe that He created.  We have been provided the perfect place to keenly observe, without filter or pretense, what has gone on before.  This gives us a better perspective of what we should expect from our God, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Experiential Encounter

But He goes much deeper than that.  As we start on the path of reconciliation with God through repentance and sanctification, we begin to desire to experience God on a more personal level.  The only way to do that is to walk with someone.

When you walk with someone, you have the opportunity to share in the life-experiences of that person.  You are there when things happen, and are immediately impacted by the results of the circumstances that you both encounter.  God does not merely want us to read about what He did yesterday (or a long time ago, in our cases); He wants to us personally be involved with Him in what He is doing today and what He is planning to do tomorrow.

Jesus called us to follow Him.  The Greek word for follow is akoloutheo.  It means to walk alongside someone, shoulder to shoulder, if you will, almost as if you were in lock-step with them.

Relational Relevance

When we being to experience God’s character by walking with Him, He reveals Himself in a greater and deeper way to us.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

In the case of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reveals that to those who exhibit the Godly character of Mercy, He will reveal Himself by being Merciful to them.  The benefits of experiencing God’s character is that God makes it real to us as we exhibit it.  It becomes experiential knowledge rather than just head-knowledge.

If a person always has food to eat, hunger truly isn’t real for them.  They may understand hunger at a simple level, maybe if they miss a meal, or fast for a short period of time.  But to truly understand hunger, a person must be in the position of not even having the option of eating for a very long time.  Whether that is self-imposed or imposed by circumstances, the reality of not even having the opportunity to eat reveals the nature of hunger as it affects those so afflicted.

Participatory Providence

While we are forgiven our sins at the time we confess Jesus as Savior, we are afforded a more intimate knowledge of the character of Almighty God.  To truly appreciate something, you generally have to pay for it yourself.  Then you begin to understand the sacrifice, effort, and cost of something.  Time, effort, and money are expended in the process that precludes the purchase of other things.  Everything comes at a price and, unless you have unlimited time, money, and skill, there are only so many choices that can be made.  Likewise, when we participate in the character of God, we give up the right to exercise other options that are available to us at the price of following the path of righteousness.

For instance, forgiveness comes at a three-fold cost.  First, there is the initial harm that we experience when we are wronged.  Second, there is loss as we give up all claim at justly recovering (if that is even possible) what was originally ours.  Finally, we suffer harm in knowing that justice for the offense will not occur (in the case of those whose sin has been forgiven.  In the case of those who refused to believe God in life, they will suffer the most grievous and just penalty for that in the Lake of Fire, and there justice is fully meted out).

Disciplinary Danger

We are warned by the Psalmist that we need to be careful in how we conduct ourselves with regards to character.  God reveals His character as a Just Judge when we exhibit ungodliness in our own character:

Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.

Even in the case of ungodly character, God reveals Himself to us as well, even if it is in a less pleasant manner and method.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I daily receiving a more experiential knowledge of God’s character?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have revealed Yourself to me in Your word.  Help me to put into practice all that I have read and learned, so that I may better experience Your character and understand the depth and breadth of the love that You have for me.  As I experience this, help me to better love my neighbor as myself, and love one another as You have loved me.  Help me to love You as You desire to be loved, and I pray that my character, daily, would more closely align with Yours until they are indistinguishable from each other.  I ask, Father, that You help me to yield myself to the Holy Spirit so that He can work more effortless through me and in me, that Your character would be on display for the world to see.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Restoration by God – Psalm 126

It Is God Who Restores Us After He Disciplines Us

1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed
2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.

4 Restore our fortunes, Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.

Dreaming after Discipline

When we are being disciplined, it can seem as if there is no future.  Our very dreams may be stripped from us as God allows us to be sifted like wheat.  The fortunes of yesterday become the poverty of tomorrow.  Women who bore children may now be barren, and any thought of success is marred as God does the opposite in our lives.

5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

It may seem impossible to dream of the future while God is disciplining us.  And although discipline is designed to bring about the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it, the training may seem excruciatingly painful, cruel, unloving, and hateful.  But that is our Earthly emotional response to the unpleasantness that is required for training.  If we focus on the feelings rather than the goal, we can become embittered, disillusioned, distant, withdrawn, and even depressed.

While a significant portion of discipline is achieved through God allowing Satan to have his way with us, God does sometimes supernaturally intervene through the withholding of His blessing and hedge of protection for reasons that appear obtuse to us.  Even His silence during this time is calculated to drive us closer to Him in prayer, with pleading and tears, rather than anger, scorn, and bitterness.

When your dreams seem like a distant echo of some great feast of long ago, let go of them to embrace the discipline that God is using to train you.  It may very well be that God is trying to sanctify you by removing the Earthly dreams and desires that you have so that He can give you new Heavenly desires and future visions of His plans. For when the discipline is over, the time to dream dreams has arrived.

Jubilant Joy

When God restores our fortunes, we will have songs filled with joy and praise on our lips.  And like a woman who has travailed through a long, difficult, and painful childbirth, the joy of seeing her child for the first time makes her forget the pain that she endured to birth him/her.

For the first time in what seems forever, we will have laughter on our lips, and God will give us a new song in our hearts to praise Him.  The former things will have passed away, and the current joy will overshadow any pain that we may have endured.  This does not mean that we won’t bear the scars.  The emotional, psychological, and physical scars of our discipline may well follow us throughout the rest of our lives.  But God will restore and sanctify what was once broken.

It is the scars that remind us of where we came from, what we came through, and where we are going.  Humans are a forgetful people.  That is why God needed to tell us that we should praise Him in remembrance when He prospers us.  Soon after the pain is over, if we do not remember our training, like a dog returning to its vomit, we may very well return to our old ways of living.  That is why God had His people erect Stones of Remembrance.

Nations Notice

When God restores the fortunes of His people, the nations take notice, and they see the grace, mercy, and provision of the Lord God Almighty.  In 1948, God kept His promise and restored His people to their land.  In 1967, God kept His promise and His people threw off the yoke of Gentile control for more than 2,000 years.  God has been restoring the fortunes of His people, and it has been a great and mighty testimony to the faithfulness of God.  And while the enemies of God and God’s people gnash their teeth and cry out in agony at the sovereign power of Almighty God, YHWH, as He marches forth His sovereign plan, the rest of the world looks on in wonder and envy as Israel grows, strengthens, and prospers.

Howling and Hymns

When we sow with tears, we reap with joy.  God is close to the brokenhearted, and hears their cries for His help.  God is not deaf to the suffering of His people:

13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.”

Growing and Garnering

The Bible says:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

When we sow seed in weeping, God will send us away with joy in our hearts as we reap the efforts of our labors with the fruit that will satisfy us.  God gives us not only physical provision, but also spiritual provision as well.  He will give us the fruit of our labor, and we will be satisfied in it.  When we drink from the fountain of living water, and eat of bread of communion, we are filled with such great abundance of joy and satisfaction that the world in its desire to physically satisfy its carnal desires cannot even begin to appreciate what we have.  For the deepest hunger of our hearts – the spiritual need and desire to be in communion with God – will be truly fulfilled, and no amount of wealth, food, or Earthly attainment can compare to the immense riches of the blessings that we have in our Heavenly inheritance.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  When faced with trials and discipline, am I able to see God’s endgame – my sanctification and His glory – through it?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your discipline seems like blows on my back.  I can sometimes barely even breathe under its weight.  Give me strength through my trials, and keep my heart steadfastly focused upon Jesus, that I may honor and glorify Your name though them.  Father, even Your Son, Jesus Christ, asked three times to have His cup removed.  Father, may Your will be done, not mine.  Help me to endure my trials as Jesus did His.  Help me to see the light at the end of these trials, so that I can look forward to laughter, joy, and song, and dreams again.  May my suffering and loss glorify Your name. Please use my pain, suffering, sorrow, and loss for Your glory so that I may know that my suffering serves some greater purpose.  Thank You, Father, for all that You are and all that You do.  May Your mercy and grace be upon me and my family through all of our trials.  Remember me – act divinely upon my behalf – this day, and give me what I need to both survive and thrive.  This I ask in Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – Matthew 18:15-17

 Discipline Is a Corporate Issue – Not Just a Personal One

15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Personal Part

In fact, we ARE our brother’s keeper! It has been drilled into our minds that we shouldn’t judge others, or we will be judged in the same fashion.  But Jesus clearly provides us with a path of reconciliation when there has been a wrongdoing between the redeemed.  The hardest part is the initial confrontation. But we are told to do it anyways.  Proverbs 9:8 states that a wise person will love you if you rebuke them.  A person who has tuned their heart to God will want to know if they are doing something unrighteous – they have purposed their heart to do right.  Pointing out a wrongdoing helps them to learn, grow, be wiser, and better honor God.

And while everyone is at a different point in their walk with God, and we aren’t the Holy Spirit, we should confront those who are sinning against us personally or sinning openly.  If you see someone engaging in open sin, it needs to be addressed.  They will become leaven, and a little leaven will leaven the whole lump of dough.  You don’t want your local church to be known as, “the people who do everything the world does.”

Sometimes when the person sins, they are deeply steeped in their sin.  Since sin blinds us to itself, there is the possibility that the person won’t acknowledge that they are doing something wrong.  When that happens, it is time to take it to the next level.

Additional Assistance

When a person refuses to acknowledge their sin against you (or open sin), it is now necessary to confront them with two or more witnesses.  Since you are a witness, you only need one or two more people with you.  The purpose of the additional witnesses is two-fold:

  • By two or more witnesses shall all charges be established
  • Additional people bring weight to what you are saying:
    • They may be upset with you and unable to hear what you are saying, but they might listen to someone else
    • In the event that a confrontation went bad when you were alone, the other person will be much more hesitant to do something with others around

If a second (and possibly third) person sees what you see and agrees that there is an issue, have them accompany you when you go to confront the person again. They will be able to help confirm what you are seeing, or, perhaps they will not see it; perhaps YOU are in error!  Either way, having a fresh set of eyes look at something will help confirm the issue or to eliminate personal bias and show why it is not an issue.

You should carefully choose whom you tell about this issue – anyone that you confide in should be spiritually mature.  If possible, choose Elders in the church that THEY attend for witnesses.  The Elders (hopefully!) have been selected, among other reasons, because they are full of the Spirit of God and spiritually mature.  It is important that when addressing sin within the body that it be done in such a way that it does not appear to be someone gossiping or being petty.  Elders can help with confidentiality as well as guide you in the best manner to approach them again, even and especially if you approached the person prayerfully and with great humility.

The sad part is, some people just won’t listen.  A root of bitterness may have become deeply embedded in their heart.  It could also be a pride issue.  Whatever the reason, the person hasn’t responded to you and the one or two witnesses who came with you to talk to him/her after praying (and I recommend fasting).  When this happens, it is time to take it to the next level.

Church Chastening

Tell it to the Church (the local body of believers where THEY are worshiping).  The purpose of telling the Church is so that they can approach the person with humility, tell them that they are praying for them, and exhort them to do what it right in God’s eyes.  The whole purpose of this exercise is to reconcile people.  The Church isn’t to condemn the person, but to lovingly bring them back from the precipice of sin.

And if after telling the Church the person refuses to repent, it is now time to take it to the next level.

Sorrowful Separation

The local body of believers are now to expel the immoral believer.  Even corporately, they were unable to convince this person to repent.  They should now ask them to leave the body, and refuse them worship and communion.  They shouldn’t even associate with them:

  • Don’t talk to them
  • Don’t eat with them
  • Don’t worship with them
  • And in the power of the Holy Spirit, turn them over to Satan

The purpose of this is to show them that they are in error.  When Satan has his way with them, and God doesn’t help them, they will be miserable and greatly desire fellowship with the Church and God again.

Paul had this to say about separating yourself from unrepentant sinners in the Church (this concerns the sin of sexual immorality, but applies to all unrepentant sin):

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

(Just a quick note – the verb translated “Expel” [exareite in the Greek] is an imperative command, not a suggestion!)

And after a period of painful separation, with the Holy Spirit working on their hearts, they will hopefully turn again to the God who saved them, provides for them, has forgiven them, and joins them to Himself.

Reconciliation is Required

Once they repent, let them come back into the Church.  Monitor them carefully, and when they have proven themselves repentant and following God, restore them.  Again, this entire process is about reconciliation, not shunning or judging.  We are told to judge those within the body.  But also remember – we need to give grace to those who are young in the faith.  For God doesn’t want us to injure those whose faith is young and fragile.

A Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask ourselves a question:  Are we corporately following scripture with regard to keeping the leaven out of the Church, and restoring the repentant believers?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for giving us a way to address issues between brothers and sisters in Christ.  We pray that anytime we need to be reconciled, that we would have a right heart attitude, and that the other person would have a heart of humility and repentance as well.  Help me to make sure that I am in the right attitude when I approach any brother or sister in Christ with such an issue.  Give me the words to say, and guide my actions and thoughts as I approach them.  Father, instill in us a greater sense of Your Holiness, that we would desire that the body of Christ would worship You in Truth and Spirit.  Let us not, for the sake of “peace”, ignore sin in the body, and so make it a haven for leaven.  Search our hearts, O God, and see if there is any wrongdoing within us.  Help us to rid ourselves of sin and walk in righteousness before You.  And when politics in the church cause people to be unfairly treated, I pray Lord God Almighty that You would deal with the hearts of those causing the issue, and show them the truth.  And if they don’t respond after repeated attempts, Lord God, remove them from their position of authority or influence, for their hearts are no longer in the right place to righteously lead or counsel Your people.  This I ask and pray in Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Sanctification by God – Matthew 7:1-2

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

When we are first saved, we are like Lazarus coming out of the tomb – we still have our grave-clothes on.  Our stinking, smelly rags that cover the fresh aroma of Christ.  We have been made alive in Christ, and yet our outer appearance is that of a dead man.  Immediately, we begin to change.  Attitudes, likes and dislikes are moving in different directions, and we may not even be aware of them until we realize that we no longer do or say certain things, and begin to desire other things.  As the “grave-clothes” are removed, we begin to look different as our changed nature becomes more apparent.

But there are some grave-clothes that just seem to stick with us for a very long time.  In the culture of this age, in the United States of America, one of these is being critically judgmental.  Oswald Chambers says in “My Utmost for His Highest” that this attitude makes it impossible to enter into communion with our Creator because of how hard it makes us and where it places us – as superior to others.  It would appear that everyone wants to be right; and as we judge others, we fail to rightly judge ourselves.

The brain is interesting.  When we develop patterns of thought, it creates real grooves in our brain that direct thought patterns.  And we need to fight against that to create new grooves in our brain (transformation through the renewing of our mind by repeated exposure to the Word of God).  The problem is, that like a scratched vinyl record (does anyone remember those?), the needle may stay in the same groove.  We need to force the needle – the thought process- of our brain into a different area so that a new groove can be made.

When there is something in our lives that is deeply ingrained, it may seem impossible for us to change it.  That is when we need to confess this to God, and ask Him to supernaturally address the issue.  God generally does this in one of two ways:

  • He supernaturally and instantaneously removes the desire from us
    • Hallelujah!  Praise the Lord!  You are delivered!  Now walk in that deliverance…
  • He consistently and repeatedly puts us in situations where we can practice creating a new groove in our brain (a new pattern of thought and action) to replace the one we want expunged (He disciplines us).
    • This is never fun.  It is also why many seasoned Christians will warn younger Christians to give careful consideration to the consequences of praying for patience.
    • Be careful what you pray for – you might just get it!
    • If you ever pray for patience, you should expect that God will send the meanest, nastiest, angriest, rudest, most irritating, most ignorant, verbally violent, and socially unpalatable people into your life to help you to put on Christ (love) in the form of patience.
    • Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean that we don’t need it or shouldn’t ask for it.  Once we are disciplined, it will bring a great harvest of righteousness.

So let’s ask the question:  are we critically judgmental of others?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I thank You today for the love that You show me when You discipline me.  Please do not discipline me in Your anger.  You are able to rightly discern my innermost thoughts and motivations.  Show me the true nature of what I am doing.  Search my heart, Lord, and see if there is anything displeasing to You in it.  Purge me from it, for my desire is to live this life in righteous obedience to You and Your Word.  Give me strength to endure the trials necessary to sanctify my mind.  Remove from me those desires and attitudes that in any way interfere with my walk with You.  Guard me on all sides, and may Your righteousness show through me that others will be attracted to You.  Bring glory to Your name, and help me to be humble when You shine.  This I ask in the name of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?